Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Many people around the UK will have already, or will be getting ready to, put up their Christmas decorations.

Decking out the tree with baubles and tinsel is typically the highlight of this activity and something we look forward to every year.

However, if you notice that carrying out this usually simple task is more difficult than usual, it could signal something concerning.

There are several red flags of cancer that could appear when decorating the Christmas tree, including breathlessness and pain in your shoulder.

Speaking to The Sun, Dr Julie Sharp – head of health and patient involvement at Cancer Research UK – said: “If you notice a change to your health that’s unusual for you or isn’t going away, contact your GP as soon as you can.

“Your doctor is there for you and wants to hear about any concerns.”

With this in mind, here are six of the most common symptoms of cancer that could become apparent when getting ready for the festive season.


While there can be other causes of breathlessness, feeling this way frequently, or after tasks usually considered light, is reason for concern.

According to Cancer Research UK, it is one of the main symptoms of lung cancer, or cancer that has spread there from elsewhere in the body.

You should contact your GP if you suddenly experience breathlessness, your breathing gets worse, or it is painful to breathe.


Again, the occasional bout of lightheadedness is not normally something you need to worry about.

You might experience a bit of dizziness while putting up decorations, especially if you’ve been holding something up for a long time or are constantly looking at the ceiling.

But if this feeling lasts more than a couple of times, you should seek advice from your GP.

This is because in some cases feeling dizzy and off-balance can signal a brain tumour or even blood cancer.

Aches and pains

Placing the star or angel at the top of your tree could cause a small amount of pain or aching in the arms and neck.

However, unexplained or persistent aches and pains can also be a symptom of cancer.

Where the disease is in your body can influence where the pain is felt – such as chest pain for lung cancer or back pain for pancreatic cancer.

It could also signal that the disease has spread around the body.

Croaky voice

While putting up for decorations you might be tempted to blare some festive tunes and even sing along.

This could leave you with a croaky voice, something that can also be the result of a cold, allergies or another type of infection.

But a croaky voice that lasts more than three weeks, could be a sign of laryngeal, throat or lung cancer, Cancer Research UK warns.


An essential part of getting in the Christmas spirit is wearing a tacky, festive jumper.

This coupled with central heating could cause you to feel more sweaty than usual.

But if you are excessively sweating with no obvious cause, and it lingers, it could be a symptom to monitor.

It is a symptom of several types of cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma, mesothelioma, and cancer of the liver and bone.


Feeling a little tired once the tree is finally assembled and decorated is nothing unusual.

“But if you’re feeling tired for no clear reason, it could be a sign that something is wrong,” Dr Sharp added.

Cancer Research UK estimates that around 65 percent of cancer patients experience fatigue.

Extreme fatigue is a common symptom of blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma, as well as breast, bowel and prostate cancer.

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